Case study – Municipality of Duisburg and neighbourhood renewal

Over the last two decades the city of Duisburg has gained a great deal of experience in developing integrated action plans that involve the residents in its most disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Interdepartmental working teams were established in order to create a strategic framework to improve the economic, physical, social, infrastructural, structural and environmental situation in the neighbourhoods. This article highlights two cases in which different neighbourhoods in Duisburg have been regenerated successfully.

About Duisburg

The Municipality of Duisburg is situated within the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Lying on the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Ruhr, it is said to be the biggest inland harbour in Europe. From its 495.668 inhabitants around 32 % have a migration background.

Example of neighbourhood regeneration: cooperation agreement between housing company and city of Duisburg

Even after a series of consistent urban renewal measures, the so-called Dichterviertel (“poets quarter”) in the north of Duisburg, was still suffering from a problematic image, with few tenants intending to stay there for long and an above-average property vacancy rate. The City of Duisburg and the owner of the settlement, a big housing company, identified social cooperation, identification with the neighbourhood and integration of migrants as decisive issues for reaching social stabile, functioning neighbourhoods and a positive image – and consequently a lower vacancy rate. In 2004 a co-operation agreement between the housing company and the city of Duisburg was concluded. Some measures in this agreement have had a positive impact:

  • A new opened neighbourhood office has positive effects on neighbourhood coexistence. Problems in the social realm and emerging conflicts in the public space can, with the presence on site of a neighbourhood manager, be prevented. 
  • Working groups promote civic participation and the common search for solutions to problems identified in the neighbourhood. 
  • A steering group is working strategically with representatives from the 3 cooperation partners: representatives from different municipal departments, municipal and church institutions, associations and organisations from the district council and the City Council of Duisburg. 
  • Voluntary work by key people in the neighbourhood makes it possible to connect residents to the project and make them engage themselves in their neighbourhood.

Example of neighbourhood regeneration  - Participatory planning around mosque building in Duisburg

While some other mosque buildings projects resulted in fierce local campaigns against the proposed buildings this was not the case with the construction of the Merkez mosque in Marxloh, Duisburg. Some even called it “the miracle of Marxloh”. Marxloh is a working class district in Duisburg with a high proportion of immigrants from Turkey. This positive image adds to other images of the district, including a city marketing campaign to reframe the image of the district from ‘ghetto’ to a positive role model with ‘Germany’s most romantic street’ = main street with bridal shops.

The miracle of Marxloh district in Duisburg

The success of the project is said to be due to the collaborative way in which it was planned: a transparent information policy, involvement of the neighbourhood German politicians, church and community leaders were invited to advice on the project.

Neighbourhood regeneration approach for Marxloh

  • A transparent and open information policy 
  • An advisory board with representatives from political parties, churches, local associations, neighbours and business people 
  • Meetings for the neighbourhood where critical questions could be asked 
  • The inclusion of a community centre in the building, open to all

For more information visit the mosque website.